Students often cram three to five hours the night before an exam, and they still don’t feel like they’re prepared. Though cramming may work for some students, it didn’t work for me, and if you’re getting C’s on your test, it’s not working for you either.
Here’s five ways to improve your study habits:
Take notes: This is an obvious solution, but some students think they don’t need to take notes to do well in a class. In my experience, however, good note-taking has gotten me several A’s. Writing something down helps with memorization. You don’t have to fill a whole spiral notebook with notes, just write down keywords. Here’s a hint: if your professor writes something down on the board, that probably means it will be on the test, so write that down too.
Use online resources: Most textbooks have websites with plenty of study tools, so check to see if your textbook comes with one. Publishers often list the websites on either the front or back of the cover. Also, the Internet has a plethora of other study aids. Ask your instructor for other helpful and reliable websites.
Flashcards: You probably thought elementary math was the last time you would need to use flashcards, but if you know your test will have a lot of terminology on it, flashcards are the best way to memorize the material. To cut down time, find a study buddy who can help you make half of the flashcards and study together.
Read the material: By read, I don’t mean cramming in five chapters the night before the test. Reading the chapters as they are scheduled will prepare you for the next class period. Plus, you can spend your time studying and not reading before a test.
Talk to your professor: Most teachers are required to have office hours, so use that time to your advantage. If you don’t understand some of the material and don’t have time to speak with your professor after class, drop by their office and have it re-explained to you. While you’re there, it never hurts to ask what will be on the test. Though some instructors are hesitant to tell you what’s on it, others will be more than glad to tell you, if you just ask.
In my experience, the best way to study is to do it in increments. Break your study time into three or four 30-minute study sessions and then try to relax when it comes time to take the test. Test anxiety often clouds your ability to recall information.